Frequently Asked Questions
Live edge furniture is a popular addition to many decorating styles, but people still have many questions. Here are answers to some of the most common inquiries people have.
What is live edge furniture?
Live edge furniture is any piece of furniture built using wood with at least one edge that retains a rounded, natural lip to it. Tables are among the most common types, but people also use live edges for seats, shelves and other kinds of furniture meant to hold things.
I want to build furniture from live edge wood. Where do I get the lumber?
Lumber for live edge furniture is available in many locations. The best slabs are usually available straight from lumber mills, which cut the wood directly. Wood supply stores may also offer slabs for customers.
What Should I Look for in Live Edge Furniture?
The main aspects to look for in live edge furniture are the overall quality of the wood and the unique pattern of the live edge. Minimal edging is better for things like tables, where too much variation can be inconvenient. Shelves can have bigger edges because people don’t press up against those.
Wood type matters, too. Hardwoods tend to be better than softer woods for live edge furniture because they’re much less likely to break apart over time.
How Do I Cut Live Edge Wood Slabs?
There are several ways to cut live edge wood slabs, but most places use something like a chainsaw sawmill. Slabs of wood are too heavy to maneuver and cut without proper tools, so it’s better to use professional tools that make moving items easier.
Why Buy Live Edge Furniture?
The main reason for buying live edge furniture is the aesthetics. Live edge wood looks much more natural than other wood because it retains much of its original shape. Live edges work particularly well in homes that people have decorated with curves instead of straight lines.
How Much do Live Edge Slabs Cost?
Like all wood products, the price of live edge slabs varies based on market factors.
Small (12-24”) pieces can be found for as little as $50 to $100. For furniture-sized slabs, the numbers vary significantly. But you can check our site for live edge wood slab prices.
Why are Live Edge Slabs so Expensive?
Live edge slabs are more expensive than other wood because they’re labor-intensive and impossible to mass-produce. Every slab is unique, following the entire length of a log to create a distinct appearance.
Live edge slabs also tend to be quite large. Mills prefer to keep them large because it’s often better to make furniture out of a single slab, even if you have to cut it and put the straight edges together. Many slabs need to be at least 10 feet long, and often more, which ends up being quite a lot of wood.
Furthermore, the price tends to go up significantly if you’re getting a large slab. Unlike most products, where buying in bulk can get you a discount, larger live edge slabs are rarer and harder for mills to get. It’s much easier to cut a board down and sell it in several pieces than it is to put multiple pieces together to make a single large slab.
How are Live Edge Wood Slabs Made?
Creating live edge wood slabs is a straightforward process. Once a tree is cut down, mills can remove the bark, then run the slab through a horizontal cutter to get each slab to the desired thickness.
How to Dry Live Edge Slabs
Drying live edge slabs is a crucial part of the production process. Letting the water evaporate removes moisture from the wood and ensures the final product is ready for use with furniture.
How to Join Live Edge Slabs
While there are many ways to join wood, most people prefer using biscuit joints. Live edge furniture tends to look best when it seems natural, and biscuit joints are both easy to do and great at hiding from regular inspection.
How to Finish Live Edge Slabs
Finishing live edge slabs is similar to finishing most other wood. While the details may vary based on what you’re trying to make, a typical process involves sanding the wood, staining it to your preferred color and perhaps adding a coating to protect the wood.
The tricky part is sanding the live edge itself. The wood may be too rough for a regular sander, and smoothing it out the whole way will get rid of the edge and defeat the purpose, which is why sanding the live edge is often a manual job.
How to Keep Your Live Edge Wood Slabs From Cracking
There are several ways to keep live edge wood slabs from cracking. The most effective options are drying the slab correctly, adding a stabilizer and being careful with your tools.
Professionals use many tricks to help reduce the risk of cracking and ruining the wood. For example, if you drill a hole before adding a nail or screw, this reduces the pressure and can help you connect pieces.
Similarly, using tape to hold the wood fibers in place can help them stop splintering when you’re cutting around the outside of your slab.
How to Store Live Edge Slabs
Once you’re done cutting and preparing a slab, it might be some time until you get to use it. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do.
The ideal storage for any live edge slab is:
Away from direct sunlight
Away from other weather exposure, especially moisture and temperature changes
Stacked on narrow boards
Covered with a blanket
Storing live edge slabs in the above ways helps minimize the risk of cracking or warping. Remember, live edge slabs can warp even after you dry them, so proper storage is vital.
How to Resin Two Live Edge Slabs Together
Adding epoxy resin is a popular technique for creating interesting tables and other furniture. While there’s quite a lot more to the process, the basic strategy is putting a mold around the wood after arranging it into a shape, then pouring in epoxy to fill in the gaps and create a flat surface.
It’s possible to use opaque resin, but many people prefer using transparent resin that can show off the edges of the wood.